West Virginians working on community development have the potential to shift the narrative of a state in perpetual decline, establish our state as a national leader in the community development field, and better position our communities to attract new and greater resources for our work. Through our work, we see a system of people and services in West Virginia that is vibrant, engaged, and committed to bringing about innovative approaches to rural community development rarely seen anywhere else.
Yet, despite the level of community development activity that has been undertaken over the last decade, data trends documenting economic growth, prosperity and quality of life have not tracked with local progress, engagement, and optimism.
Why is this?
In 2019, The Hub published the Community Development Innovation report with preliminary findings on progress, successful strategies, and persistent challenges facing West Virginia’s community development field.
This report features suggested metrics for tracking collective impact for practitioners in the field; six evidence-based best practices for rural community development; and recommendations for demonstrating collective impact.
Rural communities have powerful lessons to share about strategies for low-resourced, locally-driven community development that can be implemented in cities and towns throughout West Virginia and across the nation.
Read about 6 best practices for rural community building learned from focus groups and surveys that engaged hundreds of West Virginians representing 22 communities.
Our process included survey and analysis of 22 West Virginia communities, 5 community focus groups, 1-on-1 interviews with community development practitioners, a Community Development Think Tank with 75 participants from across West Virginia, enlisting the support of research firms Downstream Strategies and Midwest Evaluation and Research, and other tactics.
We championed the input and insight available from the experts working on community development on the ground – including practitioners with decades of experience, people who are relatively new to the work, and community members engaged in their cities and towns.
The need to document and celebrate community development impacts in rural communities is a key innovation opportunity facing us in the coming decade.
Let us know what you think about the Community Development Innovation report.